Wednesday, September 11, 2019

“The Blue Girl” Who Set Herself on Fire

On Monday, September 2, a young woman set herself on fire in front of a courthouse in Tehran. After she was taken to Motahari Hospital, doctors announced that she had suffered 90 percent burns on her body. Her family, who wish to remain anonymous, have also asked for their daughter’s identity to be protected, and refer to her by the alias of “Sara,” although many people have begun to refer to her as the “Blue Girl” because of the color of the dress she was wearing when she set herself on fire.
Sara is a fan of Tehran’s Esteghlal Football Club (FC) and, in March 2019, police arrested her as she tried to enter the capital’s Azadi Stadium to watch a game between her team and the United Arab Emirates team Al Ain. Iranian women have been banned from sports stadiums for years, and they have tried everything to break the ban — from disguising themselves as men to public protests. They have paid the price, enduring beatings, arrests and jail terms.
In June 2019, FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino sent a letter to Iran’s football federation, announcing that it had until July 15, when the qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup started, “to implement FIFA’s new disciplinary codes and to provide for the presence of women in all Iranian sports stadiums.”

The Two-Faced Federation
Following the letter, Iran’s football federation announced that Azadi Stadium's doors will be open to women fans wanting to attend the national team’s match against Cambodia on October 10, but it stopped short of lifting the ban on them attending domestic matches. Iranian Pro League matches in August went ahead without any women spectators in attendance.
In the last year alone, security forces took action against women who wanted to enter stadiums five times. On August 12, Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence agents arrestedat least six women following complaints from the head of Iran’s football federation, Mehdi Taj, and his request that the Guards stop women from entering the stadiums. One of those arrested was photojournalist Forough Alayi. The first Iranian woman to win first place in the WordPress Photo awards, Alayi has regularly tackled the subject of women being banned from entering stadiums and has documented women’s illegal presence at matches. This has won her praise, but she has also faced time in jail as punishment.
But why did Sara set herself on fire? In March, police blocked her as she tried to enter Azadi Stadium. When she resisted, they arrested her. After her arrest, Sara informed her family that she had to post a bail of 50 million tomans (over $4,300) in order to be released. The family managed to post bail after a day, despite it being a difficult amount to raise. Then authorities delayed Sara’s release by a further two days.
According to Sara’s sister, who, like the rest of the family has asked to remain anonymous, Sara suffers from bipolar disorder and has been undergoing specialist treatment for the last two years. “We have a complete set of documents about my sister’s illness and gave it to the court but, unfortunately, after my sister objected to the agents’ treatment of her and called them names, the court treated her as if she was a normal person [without mental health issues],” she said. She also said the judge had sent her sister to Varamin Prison, where the prison environment had aggravated her mental condition.
“When she went to the courthouse to get back her mobile phone, by chance she heard that she had been sentenced from between six months and two years in prison. With her aggravated and difficult mental conditions, she set herself on fire and is now in critical condition at the hospital.”
A judiciary official told Rokna News Agency that Sara has also been charged with “bad hijab,” “insulting police officers” and “acting against public modesty.” The report said Sara had arrived for the first session of her hearing “but the court’s president was off on that day because a relative of his had passed away, so another date was set …  As a protest against this action, the young woman set herself on fire outside the courthouse with gasoline that she had acquired beforehand.”

How will Posterity Judge us?
Sara’s shocking act of protest reverberated across social media. “Not too long ago, our predecessors’ forced removal of hijab [Reza Shah Pahlavi banned women from wearing the Islamic hijab in January 1936] or denial of the right of our daughters to go to school astounded us and we rebuked their abhorrent and medieval way of thinking,” Masoud Shojaei, the captain of Iran’s national football team, posted on Instagram. “In the same way, there is no doubt that posterity will not comprehend why a woman was arrested because she wanted to watch a football game and has set herself on fire.”
Another national team player and the captain of Esteghlal FC, Voria Ghafouri, wrote: “We rebuke our predecessors but pay no attention to the fact that women are not allowed into stadiums during our own lifetimes. This wrong is a good reason for future generations to reprimand us. It was really painful to hear the news that a young woman has attempted suicide after she got into trouble because she wanted to enter the stadium. I wish we could unite and give women their right to enter football stadiums in a respectable way.”
As well as attacking the ban on women in stadiums, Voria Ghafouri has also criticized the arrest of environmental activists, school fires in poverty-stricken areas of Iran, and the dismal condition of the economy. His last statements on the economy, as well as those of Ali Karimi, former Persepolis and Bayern Munich footballer, prompted the Supreme Leader to issue the following rebuke and warning: “Whatever you have, you have it thanks to the regime. Remember where your security comes from.”

“No Date on our Tombstones”
Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri, the goalkeeper for both Tractor Sazi FC and Team Melli, the national football team, had a similar view. “We must make sure that no date is carved on our tombstones,” he wrote on Instagram. “This way, posterity will not know that at this juncture in history, we were the inept ones.”
The news of Sara’s protest also led to prominent figures in Iranian cinema to share their views. “Forgive us that while you are in the hospital, we have a parade of women in the presence of FIFA officials,” wrote TV and movie actor Pouria Poursorkh on Instagram. “I swear that as long as I live I shall not step into the stadium that you [endured] burns for [because of] wanting to see it.”
Parvaneh Salahshouri, a reformist member of the parliament, said: “I keep asking myself: Couldn’t the footballers themselves resist and, for instance, say that they are not going to play? I have no idea whether this is possible or not but, in the end, people must take some action…At the very least, doesn’t this self-immolation send the message that ‘as a woman, I want something that the society refuses to grant me’? And it is not a strange demand. Women across the world enjoy this right.”
On the other hand, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, had a lackluster response to the tragedy. “We are following her situation,” she said. “We hope she gets better.”

A “Security Case”?
Meanwhile, the journalist Elaheh Mohammadi reported: “The hospital guards forcefully ejected a reporter who wanted to meet Sara, and told the reporter that it was a ‘security case.’” No reporter, photographer or person who has not been approved by agents of the Intelligence Ministry has been allowed to meet Sara or her family.
“The motto of the National Olympic Committee is the freedom of humankind,” Dariush Mostafavi, a former national team footballer and the former chairman of the Iranian Football Federation, told the newspaper Iran. “If FIFA’s Infantino, his colleagues and officials of the Asian Football Confederation learn about this, what will they think about our country? How will they act toward the federation?”
But it does not appear as though FIFA plans to take any specific action. The history of relations between Gianni Infantino and Mehdi Taj, the president of the Iranian Football Federation, shows that FIFA is firmly behind the Iranian federation and only takes action if feels that the Iranian government is interfering in the management of the federation for political reasons.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

For Immediate Release 

Iran: Draconian Sentences for Rights Defenders 
Judiciary Instrumental in Crackdown on Dissent 

(Beirut, September 10, 2019) – Iran’s judiciary is dramatically increasing the costs of peaceful dissent in Iran, Human Rights Watch said today. Since July 31, 2019 alone, revolutionary courts have sentenced at least 13 activists to prison sentences of more than a decade for peaceful dissent.

“Again and again, Iranian revolutionary court judges have been ensuring that anyone who dares challenge the authorities will pay a draconian price,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “When activists who raise issues that concern many Iranians are crushed with such harsh sentences, the judiciary’s promise of combating wrongdoing becomes a mockery of justice.”

In just the most recent cases, on September 7, a revolutionary court sentenced six labor rights activists to sentences ranging from 14 to 19 years. On August 27, the lawyer for a 22-year-old woman who had protested compulsory hijab announced that she had been sentenced to a total of 24 years. On July 31, a revolutionary court sentenced three other women detained for protesting compulsory hijab laws to sentenced ranging from 11 to 18 years.

On August 24, the lawyer for Kioomars Marzban, a satirist who has been in pretrial detention for a year, tweeted that his client has been sentenced to 23 years. Similarly over the past two weeks, a journalist and an activist arrested during a peaceful May day protest have been sentenced to more than 10 and 11 years in prison, respectively.

In each case, if the sentence is upheld, the person will have to serve the harshest sentence among the charges for which they have been convicted.

The campaign to support the prisoners of Haft Tappeh (sugar cane company) reported the September 7 sentences, including for Ismael Bakhshi, a prominent labor rights activist sentenced to 14 years, and Sepideh Gholian, a journalist and labor rights activist, sentenced to 19 years and 6 months. Both have been held since January 20. The charges, as cited by Human Rights Activists News Agency, HRANA, were all for nonviolent acts, including “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “membership in an illegal group of Gam,” an online publication, “propaganda against the state,” and “publishing false news.”

The authorities had arrested Bakhshi and Gholian after they alleged that they had been tortured when they were detained in the aftermath of sugarcane factory labor protests in November 2018.

The campaign’s Twitter account also reported that Amir Amirgholi, Sanaz Allahyari, Asal Mohammadi, and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, members of the editorial board of the online publication Gam and who have also been detained since January, have been sentenced to 18 years each in prison on similar charges. If the verdicts are upheld, each of the six labor rights defenders has to spend seven years in prison.

On August 31, HRANA reported that Branch 28 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced Atefeh Rangriz, a labor rights activist detained in Qarchak prison near Tehran since May 1, to 11 years and 6 months in prison and 74 lashes on charges that include “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “disrupting public order.”

On August 24, the family of Marizeh Amiri, a journalist with the Shargh daily paper who was also arrested on May 1, reported that Branch 28 of the revolutionary court had sentenced her to 10 years and 6 months in prison and 148 lashes. HRANA reported that Amiri faced charges that include “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “disrupting public order.” If the sentences are upheld, Rangriz and Amiri must serve 7.5 and 6 years in prison respectively.

On August 27, Hossein Taj, tweeted that his client Saba Kordafshari, a 22-year-old-woman who was arrested for protesting compulsory hijab, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for “encouraging and providing for [moral] corruption and prostitution,” seven and a half years for “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” and one and half years for “propaganda against the state.” If the sentences are upheld, she will have to serve 15 years.

On July 31, Branch 31 of Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced Yasman Ariani, her mother Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz (who were all arrested for protesting compulsory hijab laws) to 5 years for “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” one year for “propaganda against the state,” and 10 years for “encouraging and providing for [moral] corruption and prostitution.” The court sentenced Keshavarz to an additional seven and a half years for “insulting the sacred.” If these sentences are upheld on appeal, each woman would serve 10 years.

On August 24, Mohammadhossein Aghasi tweeted that branch 15 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced Marzban, a 26-year-old satirist, to 23 years in prison. Aghasi said that Marzban, who worked with multiple news websites when he lived outside the country before returning to Iran in 2017, had been convicted of charges including “cooperating with an enemy state.” Marzan has also been convicted of insulting authorities and sacred beliefs. If his sentence is upheld, he will serve 11 years.

On September 8, Mizan News, the judiciary’s news agency, reported that Ayatollah Raeesi, the head of the judiciary, ordered that “some of the recent cases will be tried fairly at the appeals level.” It appears that the order was communicated with regards to the conviction of the labor activists, but the judiciary has not shared any more details.

Earlier this year, on March 11, authorities sentenced Nasrin Sotudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes for her peaceful activism including defending women who protested compulsory hijab laws. On April 23, the court of appeal upheld the sentence. Sotoudeh, who has been detained since June 2018, has to serve 12 years in prison.

Iran’s labor law does not recognize the right to create labor unions independent of government-sanctioned groups such as the Islamic Labor Council. Since 2005, authorities have repeatedly harassed, summoned, arrested, convicted, and sentenced workers affiliated with independent trade unions.

Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) protect the right to form and join labor unions. Iran is a party to both treaties. Iran is also a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Tara Sepehri Far (English, Farsi): +1-617-893-0375 (mobile); or Twitter: @sepehrifar
In New York, Michael Page (English, Arabic): +1-617-453-8063 (WhatsApp/Signal); or Twitter: @MichaelARPage
In North Africa, Ahmed Benchemsi (English, French, Arabic): + 212-664-82-06-93 (mobile); or Twitter: @AhmedBenchemsi


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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Iranian Artists Protest Against Dogs Killing By Islamic Regime ...

News from Iran ....

Because of the continuation of dog killing in Iran by regime city officials , the Iranian artists in a statement protested against these killings . Dogs are killed in mass by city officials . Artists in the statement wrote ; these killings by city officials isn't new to us , but as a defender of environment and animal rights , we condemn these killings .

IRAN WATCH CANADA: In recent years regime officials have killed hundreds of dogs and then intensified their action against animals particularly dogs.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

For Immediate Release

Iran: Women Detained, Accused of Flouting Stadium Ban
FIFA Should Enforce Nondiscrimination Rules, Secure Women’s Release

(New York, August 16, 2019) – The Iranian government should release women detained because they are alleged to have dressed as men to circumvent a ban on women attending football matches, Human Rights Watch said today. Among the women reportedly detained on August 13, 2019 are Zahra Khoshnavaz, a prominent advocate for ending the ban on women and girls attending public sporting events, and Forough Alaei, a leading photojournalist. 

Iran bans female spectators from football and other stadiums. The ban is not written into law or regulation, but is enforced by the country’s authorities. The ban is a clear violation of the rules in FIFA’s constitution, the Statutes, and its Human Rights Policy. Article 4 of the Statutes says discrimination against women “is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.” In June, the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino warned the Iranian Federation that it must take concrete steps to allow women in stadiums or else face sanctions. 

“Iranian women should not be spending a second in prison because authorities accuse them of peacefully attempting to defy a ridiculous ban that denies women and girls equal rights to attend a football match,” said Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “Iran should immediately and unconditionally release the women and lift the discriminatory ban on women attending sports matches.” 

Women and girls who want to attend major football matches in Iran have long had to disguise themselves as men and boys to peacefully exercise that right and thwart the ban. Many have posted videos on social media to show their defiance of the ban. 

Iran Wire, an online news outlet, reported on August 16 that the authorities in Iran had arrested six women, with two names unknown. The others include Leili Maleki and Hedieh Marvasti, who are both reportedly in Qarchak prison near Tehran. 

The four women whose identities are confirmed are well-known advocates who have previously called for lifting the ban. Khoshnavaz’s advocacy to overturn the ban has been covered extensively in Iranian and global media, which have shown photographs of her in disguises she wore to enter the stadiums. 

A source who was familiar with the arrests told Human Rights Watch that on August 13, the activists were called in for questioning at the Security Police office in Tehran, where they were held overnight. On August 14, authorities took the activists to the Vozara prosecutor’s office, where a judge issued a bond for them. However, they were not released, and later that day they were transferred to Qarchak prison. Activists have previously reported on the poor hygiene and safety conditions in Qarchak prison. 

"Ignoring the wishes of a big part of society just because there could be some future problems and saying that the infrastructure is not ready, is very, very cruel and an injustice," Khoshnavaz told Euronews in an interview.

Alaei, the photojournalist, won first prize in World Press Photo 2019 for her work documenting the cruel exclusion of women from stadiums in Iran. Defense of media freedom is a central principle in FIFA’s Human Rights Policy. 

For decades, Iranian women have put themselves in danger to document their exclusion from stadiums, which is a denial of women’s rights to be part of public spaces and the life of the country. Jafar Panahi’s award-winning 2006 film Offside depicts women and teenage girls arrested for trying to cheer for their teams. 

Beyond the women challenging the ban by disguising themselves, women’s rights advocates from @OpenStadiums and #NoBanForWomen have written to FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation for years with evidence of the country’s discrimination to demand that the federations uphold their own rules. 

Infantino, the FIFA president, visited a match in Iran’s Azadi (Freedom) stadium in March 2018, during which 35 women were arrested for trying to attend. While attending a November 2018 match in the same stadium, he gave undue praise to the Iranian government for the presence of women as “a real breakthrough,” though only a select group of women were allowed to attend.

Following these events and further detention of activists in June 2019, Infantino wrote a letter to Mehdi Taj, the head of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. FIFA’s public letter set a July 15 deadline for Taj to inform him of the “concrete steps” the Iranian government were intending to take to lift its ban so that women will be allowed to attend 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Infantino expressed disappointment in the letter that Iran has reneged on its commitments to open stadiums to women.

FIFA has reported that its pressure on Iran apparently resulted steps for change. According to FIFA, in July the Iran Federation Executive Council decided to allow women in stadiums for World Cup qualifiers and began discussing how that would be carried out, such as for ticketing and seating, with Iran authorities for the October 10, 2019 men’s World Cup qualifying match.

“FIFA has clear rules that require members to allow women to attend matches and to protect press freedom, yet FIFA has not taken meaningful action to enforce its own regulations,” Worden said. “The latest detentions show that much stronger action than a verbal warning is needed from FIFA and that it needs to impose sanctions for such blatant, long-standing gender discrimination.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:

For more information, please contact: 
In New York, Minky Worden (English, German, Cantonese): +1-917-497-0540 (mobile); or Twitter: @MinkyHighjinks
In Washington DC, Tara Sepehri Far (English, Farsi): +1-617-893-0375 (mobile); or Twitter: @sepehrifar
In London, Rothna Begum (English): +1-917-443-2221; or Twitter: @Rothna_Begum

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Appeal Court Sentenced Farhad Meysami To Six Years Imprisonment.....

News from Iran ..

Mohammad Moghimi the defence lawyer for Farhad Meysami said, the appeal court sentenced my client Farhad Meysami to six years imprisonment and one year ban from any social activities and the sentencing was addressed to my client in Evin prison .

Farhad was sentenced 5 years for participation in gathering and protest and one year for propaganda against the regime . He is banned from any social activities for one year.


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Thursday, August 08, 2019

FIFA And The Presence Of Iranian Women In Sports Stadiums .....

This minister of sport is trying to buy time and in fact deceiving FIFA
After FIFA's ultimatum to the Ministry of sports regarding the presence of women ( half of the Iranian population ) into the stadiums , brought a wave of support particularly among Iranian women to this initiation by FIFA . FIFA's ultimatum to Iran's sports federation was, either let the women enter  into the stadiums or not to participate in 2020 world match in Qatar.

Sports officials in the Islamic regime follow the policy of the regime and in a way sports have become politicized . Sports officials carries Sharia law in all area of sports and FIFA must continue to put pressure on sports officials and the good thing is , they have the supports of majority of Iranian people .

Sports officials in the Islamic regime is trying to buy time and this is not acceptable . FIFA must not listen to this petty officials and demand the rights of all women to be able to attend the stadiums and watch their favourite games .


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Mohammad Rasoulof : My Crime , Making Film About Corruption In The Government Offices.....

Mohammad Rasoulof Is an Iranian film maker who is currently in prison for making film about corruption in the government offices.

Recently Jafarpanahi and Iranian International award winning spoke about the imprisonment of Mohammad Rasoulof and called all independent film makers and scholars not to keep silence and voice out .......( this was posted previously in Iran Watch Canada ).

The following picture shows the Iranian independent film makers gathered in front of Tehran court of revolution and demanded for the release of their colleague Mohammad Rasoulof .


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Noushin Jafari photojournalist For Cinema & Theaters is arrested .....

According to HRANA news ,

Noushin Jafari the photojournalist for cinema and theatre is arrested by the security forces of the Islamic regime and was transferred to an unknown location and her whereabouts is unknown. Her arrest happened without any judiciary summons.
Ms. Jafari have been arrested in the past but was released .
She is known for her photo exhibition and her work in TV series Shahrzad and other movies .....


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Monday, August 05, 2019

Gholamhossein Esmaeili , The Spokesperson for The Judiciary Power : Saeed Malekpour Escaped From Iran ....

 News from Iran .....

video :

Gholamhossein Ismaili the spokesperson for the judiciary power responding to a question of a reporter about , saeed Malekpour said;  This person spent 11 years in prison and was given a three days  bail but did not return after three days  and despite of reporting to security and intelligence agencies about his release and possibility that he may leave the country , he was able to escape  illegally from the country.


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Three Civil Rights activists Are In Prison ....

News From Iran ....

Three civil rights activists are in ( Gharachak Varamin  Prison ) In the city of Ray .  They are 
Yasaman Aryani , Manijeh Arabshahi  and Mojgan Keshavarz.

Islamic regime in Iran sentenced these three human rights activists for a total of 55 years and six months in prison.

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JAFAR PANAHI , Iranian Film Maker: Lets Not To Keep Silence ..........

" By imprisoning Mohammad Rasoulof , and causing problems against his film making , the regime can't enchain his mind. He is a film maker who will come back from prison with new stories. This winter although harsh will pass away . History will tell the story of your repression / cruelties . In this condition only Iran's independent film makers and freedom loving scholars can help each others.
Lets not to keep silence, for this dark cloud one day will stay over the roof of everyone's home . "

Jafar Panaji - Film Maker
on reaction against the prison sentencing of Mohammad rasoulof

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